A writing challenge courtesy of Tales from the Ridge: 300 words with the title “Disembodied Voices”
She was in bed, with the covers pulled up to her chin and her tiny hands clenched into white-knuckled fists around the sheets. Around the perimeter of her bed, an army of stuffed animals stood guard over her, making sure the muffled sounds from beyond the wall didn’t penetrate her dreams as anything but indistinct sound.
When the sounds got louder, she squinched her eyes shut, so that all she could see was the pixelated after-image of her darkened room, blankness like the snow on an ill-received television channel forming general shapes of furniture on the backs of her eyelids.
She yelped when she heard the *crack* of something hard against something alive…and took herself to the place inside herself where the stuffed animals could talk. “Winnie,” she whispered in her mind, “are you there.”
The golden-brown stuffed bear answered in a golden-brown honey-thick voice, that he was there, and she was safe as long as she kept her eyes closed.
Sleep child, she heard the maternal voice of Raggedy Ann urging in harmony. Everything’s fine when you sleep. In your dreams, everything’s all right.
She smiled into the darkness of her room, and drifted into sleep, an imaginary soundtrack blocking the voices of her parents from her consciousness. She’d learned to do this months ago, when they’d first begun their almost-nightly screaming matches: tune out of the real world, and tune into the songs in her head, or the voices of her dolls.
When morning came, she crept to the door of her room, and peeked out. Finding no one, she announced “I’m going to get juice now,” to the toys that had been dumped to the floor when she tossed and turned in her sleep.
She didn’t wait for any response, but silently thanked them for their vigilance.